Stephen King Writes A Letter to His 16-Year-Old Self: “Stay Away from Recreational Drugs”

king letter to self 2

By the 1980s, it looked like Stephen King had every­thing. He had authored a series of best­sellers — Car­rie, The Shin­ing, Cujo – and turned them into block­buster movies. He had a big, 24-room house. Plen­ty of cash in the bank.  All the trap­pings of that Amer­i­can Dream. And yet … and yet … he was angry and depressed, smok­ing two packs of cig­a­rettes a day, drink­ing lots of beer, snort­ing coke, and enter­tain­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts. It’s no won­der then that the author, who sobered up dur­ing the late 80s, con­tributed the let­ter above to a 2011 col­lec­tion called Dear Me: A Let­ter to My 16-Year-Old Self. Edit­ed by Joseph Gal­liano, the book asked 75 celebri­ties, writ­ers, musi­cians, ath­letes, and actors this ques­tion: “If as an adult, you could send a let­ter to your younger self, what words of guid­ance, com­fort, advice or oth­er mes­sage would you put in it?” In King’s case, the advice  was short, sweet, to the point. In essence, a mere five words.

To view the let­ter in a larg­er for­mat, click here.

via Fla­vor­wire

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was 18

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Gives Teenage Girls Endear­ing Advice About Boys (And Much More)

Stephen King Reads from His Upcom­ing Sequel to The Shin­ing

by | Permalink | Comments (14) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (14)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Brigofdoom says:

    I love hear­ing this. “Drugs have made me so much more cre­ative”. nn“So…what have you cre­at­ed with your new found inspiration?“n*Silence*

    • Gezzer50 says:

      As a per­son that did do drugs (too many) in my youth and ear­ly adult­hood, I’m on the fence about this con­cept. I know for a fact I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son than the one I would of been with­out my expe­ri­ences. But the big ques­tion is am I bet­ter off or worse off?nI have to say that I could of been much more suc­cess­ful and ear­li­er in my life as well. I did­n’t get any edu­ca­tion past HS, because I was too busy get­ting stoned. In fact I bare­ly grad­u­at­ed. For a test­ed 135–140 IQ that’s kind of sad.nI’m pret­ty cer­tain my long term health has suf­fered in the same sense that heavy smokers/drinkers have health prob­lems lat­er in life as well.nBut I do have a unique per­spec­tive that I would­n’t of oth­er­wise had. I would of been a straight lace nerd with a very black and white view of the world. Instead I’m more aware of the sub­tle shad­ings and colours hid­den there in.nSo do I have the “poten­tial” to be more cre­ative? I think so. Do I have the dri­ve to put my cre­ativ­i­ty into a usable form? Well there’s the rub.

    • Danny says:

      John, Paul and George would like to have a word with you on this sub­ject…

  • True says:

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Stephen King was a much bet­ter writer when he was was as high as a kite.

    Still, even at his worst he is bet­ter than most authors at their best. Even sober. Any­one who thinks King is not a tal­ent­ed author (and they do occa­sion­al­ly sur­face) sim­ply does not under­stand the craft of writ­ing and is focus­ing instead of their own per­son­al dis­like of WHAT he writes about rather than HOW he writes. And to para­phrase King him­self when yet anoth­er drea­ry per­son asked him “Why do write about such awful things?” his answer is “Why do you assume I have a choice?”.

    I am not say­ing I wish he had stayed a drug addict/alcoholic. Of course not. But despite it not the done thing to admit it, despite peo­ple wish­ing to deny it for all the best of rea­sons and with the best of inten­tions, he was a bet­ter author when he was fly­ing high as a kite.

  • Cardinal Charles Ng says:

    My advice to myself would be: Spend more time with your chil­dren

  • TellDTruth says:

    Total BULLSHIT, Mule. That’s like say­ing if Gab­by Gif­ford had­n’t been shot in the face, she would­n’t be the woman she is today. True in a sense, but that does­n’t make it IN ANY WAY a pos­i­tive or worth­while experience.nnKing man­aged to write dur­ing his drug­gy years, thanks to his great work eth­ic and self-dis­ci­pline, but any addict knows … if he’d been clean, he would have writ­ten twice as much and it would have been twice as good.

  • koomo says:

    My advice to my younger self: Enjoy the great ear­ly work he did, but don’t read any­thing King’s writ­ten aftern The Green Mile.

  • Colten says:

    “if he’d been clean, he would have writ­ten twice as much and it would have been twice as good.”

    We real­ly have noth­ing to base that claim on, in all hon­esty. That is quite an assump­tion that you’re mak­ing.

  • Rachel D says:

    He got there in the end and that’s some­thing to be proud of. His books were and are still amaz­ing.

  • da says:

    thanks for the fre­quen­cy, ken­neth

  • stephanie says:

    I love all the com­ments on what King should have or could have done or been. What­ev­er, Stephen King. Say it again, Stephen King. He could do and does what he wants. He’s a writer. What he does or does­n’t do is his choice. Did he waste a decade of his life? I don’t know, ask him. Hem­ing­way, ever hear of him? Sure you have, he wrote all those clas­sic nov­els. Google him. I won­der what he did or did­n’t do. Did he smoke grass, get high, drink?
    Who knows and hon­est­ly, who cares. Do you like or enjoy what he wrote? Same for King. Do you enjoy his work? If not then why the hell are you on this site? We’re talk­ing Stephen King. Now, if you’re inten­tion is to write about all the rea­sons you should NOT indulge in alco­hol or drugs then we’re speak­ing about a dif­fer­ent top­ic. Did King waste a decade of his life? Ask his wife. Spous­es know all the ghosts in the clos­et.

  • John Campbell says:

    He is not say­ing to stay away from drugs for us, the audi­ence’s sake. He says to stay away for his own sake.

  • Peter Astle says:

    Stephen King is my lit­er­ary hero. If alco­hol and recre­ation­al drugs were his crutch, they were also his mag­ic wand. I read some­where that he could­n’t remem­ber writ­ing some of his ear­li­er bril­liant nov­els. Great he’s been clean for years — I dis­agree with one of the com­ments that he wrote bet­ter when he was high because he gets bet­ter all the time. With or with­out alco­hol King is a genius. Pos­si­ble the best liv­ing writer in the world. He knows his audi­ence inti­mate­ly, like a lover, and knows how to treat them with his jokey folksy style. Not to men­tion his superb imag­i­na­tion which seems bound­less.

  • Randy Meatball says:

    Why did my dad leave

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.